Rowan Oan to open temporarily for Faulkner Conference, then remain closed until Spring 2003
July 15, 2002
By Lucy Schultze
Editors note: This article originally appeared in the July 9, 2002, edition of The Oxford Eagle.
OXFORD, Miss. William Faulkners home will open its doors for one evening this month before theyre shut tight for nine months of renovation and repair.
As part of the 29th Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, attendees will gather at Rowan Oak for a picnic dinner on July 24. Six weeks later, work will begin on the first phase of a $1.2 million restoration project designed to preserve the authors home and 31-acre grounds.
The house has already been closed to crowds since December while the new climate control system to equalize temperature and humidity inside the house was being designed. During that time, visitors have been able to tour the home only by making special arrangements with University Museums.
The house needed a break, said Rowan Oak curator William Griffith. I feel bad for the visitors who didnt get the word it was closed. But in order to plan for the preservation of the house, we had to close it.
Griffith said that no special exceptions to tour the home can be made once work inside the home begins after Sept. 3. Phase One, which will also include the installation of new plumbing and electric wiring, should be finished by May 2003, he said.
When it is complete, work can begin on Phase Two, which includes repairing the plaster walls, repainting rooms in original colors, wallpapering with original designs, and purchasing replicas of furniture and rugs.
Currently in the bidding process, the $363,000 second phase has been funded through the U.S. Department of the Interiors Save Americas Treasures grant program, with matching funds from the Mississippi Legislature.
The University of Mississippi has also secured a $479,000 grant from U.S. Housing and Urban Development to complete Phase Three, which will restore the landscaping of Rowan Oaks grounds and gardens.
The first phase was funded through a $500,000 appropriation from the Mississippi Legislature in 1998. Original plans called for the first phase to be finished last month in time to allow summer visitors a chance to tour the home but the design portion of the project took longer than expected.
Griffith said he hopes not to have to close the home during Phase Two of the project. The grounds will remain open throughout the restoration process, he said.
Rowan Oak was built by a pioneer settler in the 1840s and purchased by Faulkner in 1930. He lived there until his death in 1962, and the University of Mississippi purchased the home and grounds from the authors daughter 10 years later.
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